Friday, June 29, 2007

I don't think I post too many rants, but my friend Karl at Adventures in Gastronomy posted a piece on the shooting death a couple of days ago of an eight year old boy in Boston, and a number of my buttons got pushed.

First of all if this story didn't make national news, the boy was shot in the abdomen in his own home and died not much later in hospital. His mother told the police that three young men had forced their way into the apartment and when they weren't able to find the person they were looking for, shot the little boy and left. This shooting caused major public outrage in Boston, a city currently experiencing a huge spike in gang violence.

Local ministers in the black community were brought together--again--to discuss what could be done to stop the street violence (which has caught and killed many innocent people, largely young people, in the cross fire). The mayor returned home early from a conference of mayors to deal with the situation. There were vigils in the neighbor hood and new appeals for people to come forward, break the “code of silence” to help catch the three gang members who were so cruel as to kill a little boy when they couldn't get the person they really wanted.

Except, there were no gang members, at least not this time. Two days after the shooting, the boy's mother came forward and apologized to the community for lying about the apartment invasion, and the details she gave of how it really happened were no less horrific than the original lie. Her sister had come over with a seven year old son in tow and the women left the two boys to play by themselves--with a loaded illegal hand gun that was in the apartment. The seven year old pulled the trigger while the gun was pointing at his cousin.

The result now has been more, long overdue (but doubtless futile) calls for gun control and for parents to look after their children (as of the last TV news I listened to, nobody has yet admitted to owning the gun, although the household in which the boy was killed was said to have included a “gang-related person”).

In any event, Karl wrote with some passion that he couldn’t see why there was so great a furor over the killing of a child when other people, teenagers and adults of all ages, are being killed daily and their deaths don’t seem to cause the same outpouring of anger and concern--the media drop their stories relatively quickly and they fade into statistics. So I left the following comment [here slightly developed and expanded] on Karl's blog, venting sentiments I have had for years about our society and how it does or does not value the lives of its members:

Karl, I agree completely but I would extend your concern to other areas. Maybe it's just because I'm gay, but I've always wondered why women have always been protected in emergency situations but it's just fine for men to be slaughtered ("Women and Children First" and other vestiges of the old "Chivalric Code").

When the feminist movement started, demanmding that women be fully equal to men, I thought that if there were to be real equality, then women should have to be drafted, go to war, and serve in combat. Some of that has actually happened now that we have an all-volunteer army, but at the time nobody (including women) wanted to see teenaged girls drafted and sent to Viet-Nam. I keep hearing test balloons put out by the military about reinstating the draft, most recently when the army complained about having to lower standards to get more recruits. If women aren't included in any future draft, then we do not have true equality in this country.

Whenever a child is killed we always hear "(s)he had his/her whole life ahead of him/her." This is nonsense--whenever ANYBODY is killed, they have their whole lives ahead of them. A person's adult years and old age are no less unique and valuable than their youth. Life is precious--or used to be.

When I was growing up, it was in a post WWII culture that still harbored severe prejudices against Germans and Japanese. I heard in school, at home, and throughout society that "'Orientals' have no respect for human life” because there are so many of them. The reasoning was that if they lost a million or so, who cares?, there are millions left. This was bullshit, of course--Asian societies have immense respect for human life. The way they care for and respect elders in their various cultures is wholly admirable and the exact opposite of what goes on in western cultures, particularly in the U.S. where there's contempt and neglect for the old and the focus is entirely on youth. It is we who are cruel and lacking in respect for human life.

The U.S. and the "coalition" have now killed more Afghan civilians than the Taliban, and the Afghan president is rightfully calling us to account for doing so. Bozo shakes the bible over stem cell research to defeat proposed laws that could lead to the cure of millions who suffer from deadly degenerative diseases, but has no hesitation sending our people to their deaths in Iraq, and no care for the thousands and thousands of Iraqi civilians who are slaughtered every month. He probably thinks they're some kind of "gooks" who have no money and no votes in American elections and, therefore, don't matter.


I’m on the road later today to Fritz’s (surprise!) for the weekend to help him host a family reunion that will include somewhere around forty people. While I've already met a large number of his relatives, I'll be meeting several new ones at this event. In my family (all four grandparents immigrated from Europe and all were from families of eight to thirteen children) the generations have had progressively fewer and fewer children, but in Fritz's there have been multiple births and the widespread siblings, cousins, aunts, nieces and nephews and their extended families all keep in pretty close touch. It should be a lot of fun.

Now she doesn’t know it yet, but my cat is going up this weekend never to return to Boston. We always kid about her visiting her "country estate" when she comes up with me for a long weekend or other stay, but this time she's going into residence so that when the junk men come next Friday or the movers come the following Tuesday, she won't be scared stiff or maybe slip outdoors through one or the other of the house's doors that will be wedged open.

Getting her into her carrier for the car requires a bit of strategy. If I do things like put her litter pan into a plastic trash bag to pack in the car, she knows what's up and disappears. I believe firmly that cats know exactly what's going on and are always ready to do the precise wrong thing (hunker down in the geographic center of the space below a queen-sized bed) at exactly the right moment to cause major inconvenience and confusion if they feel their right to run things is threatened. Fortunately, once she gets in the carrier, she calms right down and is a very good traveler.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

First of all, you're spot on with the comment that there is no equality in our nation, or world, for that matter. We'd like to live in la-la land and think there is. But if you are part of a group that hasn't yet achieved it, you'll know exactly what I mean. Gun control? Touchy subject at best. A horrible story you've described. And to top it with a lie...from the mother! Even worse. Accidents occur in all sectors of our world. Regularly and always. Accidents require minimizing the things that can lead up to at a time. Remove the gun, remove the 7-yr-old, remove the parents being gone, remove this piece or that and things don't play out the same. I'm not advocating a free-for-all, don't get me wrong. In fact, I do believe in some sort of serious gun control. But I'm not sure of the specifics of, when, what, and (the biggest problem in all of these kinds of laws) how to enforce it and make it work effectively. And we suck pretty bad at that part.
Sidenote: I'd love to be at the family reunion....sounds like a blast.
slip the shitty kitty some lithium and when it passes out, drag it by the tail and toss it in your trunk.

if u want i will come over with a piantball gun, pickax and chainsaw and get the cat in the car for u...

offer is on the table.

According to today's New York Times, humans didn't domesticate cats; rather cats domesticated themselves. That was just the beginning of the domestic house cat's superiority complex. Evidently, it's well-deserved.

Good luck in the cat moving.
That cat is going to get you back.
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